I have friends who keep the most beautiful garden. Despite their glorious begonias, ringing them to hear their plans during a summer weekend used to make me chuckle because, as sure as the day is long, there would always be a trip to Homebase on their Saturday morning agenda.
As I heard all the news about the retailer’s recent troubles, I thought to myself – is it coincidence that in the past couple of years I’ve heard nothing more about their habitual trips to the green, white and orange home improvement superstore? Not a peep – yet I spotted those marigolds were gorgeous as ever when they hosted a BBQ the other week.
Turns out, the trips have been abandoned in favour of making their horticultural purchases via all kinds of online, offline and click & collect options. It’s not that they have only just discovered the online world; remember – these were former advocates of visiting this store to make a purchase. But for them, a tipping point in the retail world had come and they now use their green fingers to purchase from multiple independent retailers instead of singularly using Homebase.
They heralded their change of tune to me that matched a consumer trend we are seeing here at Pure360. They feel more confident in purchasing with independent retailers and they find decent ones more searchable than ever before. Independent retailers typically offer great customer service and recommend new, diverse and high-quality product ranges based on their expertise in a particular area. For example, they chose their turf from a selection of multiple options to be delivered from lawn specialists turfonline.co.uk – you don’t need to be Alan Titchmarsh to see the logic behind this, given the sorry state of the rolls of grass you see outside most UK garden centres.
Indeed, research we carried out with YouGov found that nearly half (49%) of GB consumers are not likely to go to a large retailer first to purchase a specific item.
The surge in support for the more unknown retailers could be due in part to the customer service they offer, with nearly half (43%) of respondents claiming they would consider shopping with an independent over a larger retailer if they are treated like a valued customer rather than just a number. In a similar vein, 39% of consumers favour independents because of the personalised experience they would receive, whilst the same proportion of respondents like independents over larger retailers because they don’t want the same products as everyone else.
Awareness of the smaller operations is growing, with almost two thirds (63%) of consumers online having heard of new independent retailers in last 12 months. Independents are offering a niche product set, a more personalised experience and crucially, can adapt quickly to the changing needs and situations of a consumer.
I’m not saying that my friends have single-handedly prompted the demise of Homebase. But the rise of the independent retailer has clearly made sure their garden looked particularly lovely this year.